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10/9/2019
Tribe banishes suspected drug dealer from village

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A Native tribal council has banished a suspected methamphetamine dealer from a northwest Alaska village, officials said.

The council met the man at the airport, helped pay his air fare and forbid his return to Kiana for up to five years, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

The eviction from the community west of Kobuk Valley National Park was the second reported in Alaska in recent weeks. Protesters in Galena in the state's interior region collected donations to fly another suspected meth dealer to Fairbanks.

The Galena and Kiana suspects both left voluntarily, officials said.

Banishment is one of the few solutions for protecting Kiana's 420 residents from dangerous contraband like meth, City Administrator Ely Cyrus said.

"Resources for policing, substance abuse, counseling and health care are limited out here," Cyrus said. "The city government can't do banishments or prevent freedom of travel. But the tribe being able to take that path is good for them. They are looking out for the welfare of the tribe."

Kiana tribal officials held a hearing in September before issuing a formal banishment order against the man, an Alaska Native who is not part of the tribe but lived in the village.

Tribal leaders believe he provided meth for a party that lasted days in early September. One meth user complaining of hallucinations and a racing heart was flown to a hospital in Kotzebue, 60 miles (97 kilometers) to the west, said Delores Barr, Kiana tribal director.

"When we heard the amount of crystal meth that had come in recently, that was alarming enough for the council to feel like we should take action," she said.